Every few years, a new fad enters the world of Nutrition that takes a stronghold for a while. Be it Atkins or Cabbage soup, it is pushed via the hype machine until the realities come to the forefront that all is not as advertised.
The “newest” approach is detoxification. (Of course, detox methods are thousands of years old and have a long and celebrated history as an effective therapy when used properly.)
Funny how three simple words can make a difference — when used properly. Let’s start here.
When is a detoxification program effective and for whom?
The short answer is 1. Spring time and 2. those who are experience symptoms of excess. Allow me to elaborate.
The body has many cycles and rhythms, some of which are more well known than others. The oldest known is that the body follows the rhythm of nature and the change of seasons. As such, Spring is considered the ideal time for a detox program. Hence the term, “spring cleaning” has multiple means. (There are some factions that also look at a mild, brief detox in Autumn as well, but I am not one of those people who adhere to this notion.)
The “who” is an equally important question. Those people who exhibit qualities of “excess.” Symptoms would include insomnia, extreme sweating, loud voice, tons of energy, certain types of obesity, certain types of headaches and others. In short, they simply have too much energy for their system. Lowering it down a bit would bring such individuals into the ideal range.
As you may have surmised, the vast majority of people do not fit this category. Most are at the other end — deficiency (actually obese and deficient). They lack energy, blood, motivation, passion etc. In short, a program that features nourishment, inner exploration, artist expression, physical activity such as Qi Gong, yoga or Tai Qi to build energy, would be the ideal.
However, what is happening now is that the “detox fad” is being pushed on all types of people, at all times of the year. The argument is that the food and environment are toxic, and thus people need to clean their systems regularly.
While there is little argument on the issues of environmental toxicity, GMOs and other food and water related problems, this is NOT the way to adjust or correct most people’s systems.
By strengthening the routes of drainage — liver, kidneys and lympathic system in particular – the body’s natural detoxification methods will work at the ideal rate and ideal pace they are designed to. There is nothing forced. Utilizing proper foods, nutrition including herbs that nourish, juices, broth and teas immediately come to mind.
By pursuing health in this fashion, you detoxify the body naturally by building the systems, not by draining them. As mentioned, most people are already drained. The WORST thing to do is drain and already drained person.
Unfortunately, the “drain the already drained” approach has caught hold with some. In fact, in my opinion, it is becoming the “new bulimia.” Here is the sequence that I am noticing:
As you can see, it is the Eat/Purge sequence we see with bulimia, albeit it in a slightly less immediate fashion.
I have seen more people with heart related issues, adrenal exhaustion, thyroid problems, depression, anemia, overall exhaustion and a host of similar symptoms related to improper or repeated detox programs. If you look at the common thread with all of these symptoms, the same theme repeats itself — draining an already drained person.
Detox programs can certainly have their place. As previously mentioned, they have a long and celebrated history. However, unless used properly and timed correctly, the medicine becomes the poison.
Doc’s Thoughts: For every 20 people I have seen on a detox program, 1 or 2 at the most benefit. The rest end up suffering in the long term. It is one thing to add cilantro or parsley to your meals. (These 2 mixed together will remove toxic metals from your system in a safe, effective and gentle way). It is quite another to add very cold, harsh herbs such as Rhizoma Rhei or Cascara Sagrada to a protocol. The side effects of such herbs are rather long.
In addition, knowing how to create a formula is a long, details program of study. Too many formulas on the market are “created” simply by finding 6 or 7 detox herbs and throwing them together. This is amateur hour to say the least. Creating an herbal formula requires detailed knowledge of each herb, how they interaction with each other, the meridian they enter, taste and a host of other factors.
David is a Nutritional and Alternative Medicine Expert, Educator and Entrepreneur. As an Acupuncture Physician and Master Herbalist, he has created the best selling anti aging formula, Doc Wellness Supplement and the online school – Dr. Orman’s Wellness School.